Mykonos, a white-on-white flower-covered jumble of cubed buildings and flowing, cobbled streets that practically sweats with crowds June through August, is the most popular Greek isle in the world. It is a classic jet-set playground where mega yachts, myriads of ferries, helicopters and planes offload 15,000 visitors a day. From models, magnates, rock stars, Formula1 drivers, international superstars, heads of state, multimillionaires to regular everyday folk the ultimate Greece experience is pretty much perceived as Mykonos.
Under Mykonos's trademark windmills, in Little Venice the summer nights are laced with candle-lit tables set just near the water's edge, limitless bars and cafes bursting at the seams with glittered crowds. Mykonos has a schedule all its own that most respect or drop trying. You eat at 10 or later and then spend several hours of dancing or just walking through the streets getting home as honest people are waking up to go to work. Thus, crowds don't start showing up at the beach until noon, or even the early afternoon.
The water surrounding Mykonos is a crystal-clear aquamarine, and the beaches themselves are starkly beautiful. Super Paradise Beach is the most famous outside Mykonos (second to Ibiza) for being one of Europe's party zones. Lines of beach chairs and umbrellas, it draws hard bodies - male and female and gay and straight - with the type of tans last seen in America in the 1980's. It also has its share of topless women, beach-bum guys and the occasional family, all sunning themselves to dance hits pumped out by the beach bar restaurants that ring the beach.
If you want to avoid the crowds or the madness there are plenty of smaller beaches to escape to. Agios Sostis, is just a few miles northeast of Chora, but still a pleasant drive. The wide beach is of pale sand, sometimes windy in the summer, but without any of the music or beach chairs. The strange moonscape hills of Mykonos rise above it, adorned with white cubed houses. A small cove on the north end provides all the shelter you need from the wind and sun, and feels a world away from the loud masses. Mykonos has enough gorgeous white-sand beaches lapped by crystal clear turquoise water to choose from in terms of atmosphere and amenities. These range from simple family-style tavernas to ultra-chic lounges pumping out dance music and potent cocktails at all hours. The latter is the case in many of the coves in the south, where the beach at Elia is a more tranquil version of paradise and in the west Agios Ioannis.
If you want to recuperate on the beach, this time at Psarou, you'll have to reserve beach chairs in advance to be right at home amid summer's wildly see-and-be-seen crowd, many of whom arrive by yacht and are shuttled ashore in vintage mahogany skiffs. Keep an eye out just in case Georgio Armani or Roberto Cavali ask for a light, cause that's where they'll be. Psarou also features such vital amenities as a day spa, a hair salon and an outpost of chic boutiques just in case someone left their Prada in the plane's overhead compartment.
Mykonos is the pinnacle of luxury accommodations, fusion gastronomy, overindulging and shopping for high end labels and lavish jewelry found on Rodeo Drive or 5th Ave. This is the island of choice to live a little or a LOT, really. Of course it also can be beautiful and tranquil if you want to escape the ghosts of your wild college past.